Morphological correlates of locomotor performance in hatchling Amblyrhynchus cristatus.
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Previous studies of locomotor performance from a variety of perspectives often assumed that speed and limb length were strongly correlated. Despite support of this assumption from biomechanical models, few empirical studies have demonstrated a significant relationship between measures of locomotor capacity, such as maximum velocity, and length of the hindlimb at either the inter- or intra-specific level. We examined whether one measure of locomotor performance, maximum velocity, correlates with body size and elements of the hindlimb in hatchling marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus). Larger hatchlings ran faster. Removing the effects of body size revealed that relative lengths of the tibia and hindfoot correlated with size-adjusted maximum velocity. Individuals with relatively long tibia and short pes were relatively faster than individuals with short tibia and long pes. Functional morphological analyses predict that femur length should correlate with maximum velocity. However, our analyses failed to support this prediction. Because hatchling marine iguanas exploit relatively open habitats, the relationship between maximum velocity and limb morphology may be interpreted as an adaptation enhancing escape from predators.